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Potential Flu-Related Deaths Hit the Central Coast

By Cassandra Arsenault, Reporter, CassandraArsenault@kionrightnow.com
Published On: Jan 09 2014 08:46:06 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 10 2014 10:58:31 AM CST

More deaths to report, as the flu season is hitting its stride. Twenty-five states are reporting widespread cases, and those numbers here in California are on the rise.

More deaths to report, as the flu season is hitting its stride. Twenty-five states are reporting widespread cases, and those numbers here in California are on the rise. The flu is sweeping through the Central Coast. Two deaths are being investigated as being flu-related in Santa Cruz County.

At this point hospitals say the amount of people with the flu is fairly normal for the season, but the difference is that the strain this year is more dangerous than others. Monterey County and Santa Cruz County hospitals say there's an increase in cases to the emergency room.

"There's multiple types of flu-- in fact there is 600 that we know about, and every year the Center for Disease Control finds more," says Debra Johnson, an R.N. and manager of Infection and Prevention Control at Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System.

The H1N1 stain is the most prevalent, and already has potentially caused two deaths in Santa Cruz County, and put four more in the Intensive Care Unit. Two more people are in the Monterey County Intensive Care Unit, and hospitals are taking extra precautions to deal with this spike.

"We do have people with respiratory symptoms, and they are given a mask, and we try to isolate individuals, and put a mask on them until we know what they have," says Johnson.

Community Hospital of Monterey Peninsula hasn't been inundated with patients with the flu yet, but have a tent ready to go, so they can expand room for treatment when the times comes. Last year they had over 1,000 cases of people with flu or flu-like symptoms. Most hospitals are monitoring patterns in the flu.

"We have a system called Syndromatic Surveillance System. It monitors individuals, so it will report influxes or increases in respiratory type symptoms," said Johnson.

The flu is not a reportable disease, but if someone ends up in the ICU or dead because of influenza, hospitals have to report it to the county and state.

SVMHS says almost all of the flu cases they have had are people who have not been vaccinated.